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Mini-Dungeon #027: Kaltenheim
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2016 04:50:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!


This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


Still here?


All right!


In the frigid north, rumors abound that a massive raider has begun striking at nomads wandering the snowline: Dubbed Koloss and accompanied by a huge white wolf, thisboogeyman has recently called an NPC of importance - and now it's time to put him in his place for once and for all. The trail leads to a complex of frigid, natural caves, which contain not only multiple, powerful advanced yetis and subarctic shriekers acting as a natural alert-system.


More important for the module, the little pdf sports intriguing terrain features beyond the shriekers and they serve another function: The dread Koloss turns out to be an ogre-mage accompanied by a two-headed winterwolf and the PCs will be challenged by these adversaries...but if they manage to out-stealth them, they may actually catch them unaware! Have I mentioned the elemental nodes associated with arctic water?


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from a minor typo. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!


Jonathan Ely's Kaltenheim has a very distinct flavor that makes it unique and interesting - it rewards capable PCs and sports a cool (pardon the pun) boss.


At the same time, the skull and crossbones icon on the map, usually denoting traps, isn't clearly aligned with what's supposed to be there - I assume they pertain to the shriekers, but are also used for the trap that needs to be defused to reach the final room. Using two different icons would have helped make this slightly more user-friendly. Ultimately, this is a good, if not perfect, but certainly fun and immersive dungeon, well worth 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #027: Kaltenheim
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Kineticist Codex
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2016 04:49:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This collection of NPC-builds clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with exactly 20 pages of content, so what do we get?


Well, the answer here is pretty straightforward - we get 20 kineticist-builds, one for each level.


...


What, you want to know more? All right, all right...So, the first thing you'll notice is that, as denoted by the huge Porphyra-logo, the characters herein sport fluff that is tied to Porphyra, firmly rooting them in Purple Duck Games' patchwork planet, though that does not mean that they don't work in different contexts. The second thing you'll notice is that each of the characters featured comes with a cool boon-entry that provides benefits for PCs engaging n friendly ways with the respective character. A closer look at the respective characters and their set-up will show you another rather interesting component - the characters themselves tend to be diverse. No, I mean REALLY diverse.


As in "Genderless oakling elemental ascetic"-diverse. As in Ultimate Psionics-Elan brothers. As in a kitsune overflowing soul. As in a god-of-war CR 20 forlarren or as an arrogant, superbly powerful genius half-elven artist of death in exile from court. The concepts of the characters are truly diverse and captivating and the builds themselves show Brian Jolly's experience regarding the creation of powerful characters - I can see pitting these versus my players sans them erupting in yawning matches. As for the exotic races used, you can access them for free, so that does indeed not constitute a detriment in my book.


That being said, the builds of the characters, while diverse in races, do not sport the same level of diversity in their feat-choices, where the obvious Toughness, Weapon Focus, etc. reign pretty much - a bit more variety for different concepts would have been neat here. While there are some minor hiccups here and there, over all, the statblocks are well crafted, though quite a few avoidable glitches like e.g. "kimetic"[Sic!] blast have crept into the book.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are generally solid, though not perfect - I noticed several typos and minor glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf has no art apart from the cover.


I enjoyed Brian Jolly's humble collection of kineticists more than I thought I would - while the statblocks aren't as flawless as those of some statblock wizards out there, we get a healthy dose of diversity in this book, with numerous uncommon character concepts and flavorful ideas. The write-ups actually make the beings portrayed here feel like proper characters, something I deeply appreciate. The kineticist builds themselves are pretty varied as well, though obviously beholden to the more effective options available for the respective direction. Beyond class abilities and races, diversity isn't that pronounced in the respective feat-selection, though we do have e.g. a crafter (with proper skills and feats), a half-giant with wild talent and the like - there is variety here, it's just not as diversified as for the rest of the respective builds. All in all, this is a nice, inexpensive, if not perfect collection of kineticists - my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticist Codex
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Gossamer Worlds: INK (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2016 04:00:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This trip to one of the countless Gossamer Worlds clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a step through this door!


Okay, have you read Flatland? If not, I'd strongly suggest you do so - for its implications are very much relevant for this Gossamer World: You see, INK is unlike most such worlds in that it exists as a 2D-world, where visitors are subject to the so-called rendering, as they are translated into 2-dimensional versions of themselves - for this world is one of sentient comics, classic ink drawings and the like - INK is layered on sheets and traveling from one sheet to another changes you - and yes, there is danger in this brute-force conversion of styles...in this translation, in which beauty and reality may be lost or gained.


In a world defined by the artistic, one should not be surprised to see a class-system, as portraits lord over sketches and the underclass of downtrodden scribbles, while specialized drafter annunaki (stats provided) and the erasing eraser erebi can be considered to be the truly powerful forces of nature of INK, dangerous in either the scroll kingdoms, panelopolis, the funnypaper farms or the scrawl - oh, and have I mentioned Major Maim? This guy makes Judge Doom look like a downright cute, reasonable guy - think of superman as evil and as an existential nihilist hell-bent of destroying (and/or escaping) the limitations of his world...


Considering the strange nature of INK as opposed to many more conventional gossamer worlds, it does come with rather detailed pieces of advice to properly implement it in your game, which is greatly appreciated.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard for the series and a diverse array of high-quality full-color artworks illustrates the world in the different styles you can expect - nice touch. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Matt Banach's INK is brilliant - much like Planet Fiction, it allows for a huge array of real life creatures to be inserted in the game - from your favorite superheroes to manga/anime-characters and classic paintings, this one sports so many narrative options, it's not even funny anymore. Ever wanted to know what would happen if Garfield and Odie could duke it out in a Gundam? Well...there you go. Unlike Planet Fiction, though, this may have less space to develop the world - but it has the upper hand in one crucial regard: A unique selling point. Depicting the 2-dimensional, comic book reality herein can lead to truly memorable, unique adventures and constitutes one of the crucial strengths of this extremely evocative world. Granted, you can mostly ignore this component, if the repercussions give you a headache, but personally, I love this pdf for it and consider it one of the best in the whole series, on par with the genius Poetica Mundi-installment. Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: INK (Diceless)
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Conduits of the Age (13th Age Compatible)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2016 03:58:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This conversion of the conduit-class clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!


First thing you'll notice is that the class pretty much follows the formula established in the 13th Age core books, with info on play style, popular races, etc. showing up. Attribute bonuses gained by the class (the usual +2) need to be applied to either Dex or Wis, though they can't be stacked on the same attribute favored by the race chosen. Starting equipment contains melee weapon, ranged weapon, light armor and receive 25 gp starting gold (or 1d6 x 10). Regarding basic attacks and armor-preference, the class is leaning toward the rogue, with Dex being added to hit and damage. Damage bonus from ability modifier increases at 5th and 8th level, base Hit points are (7+Con mod)x3 at first level, scaling up to x24 at 10th level. Level up ability bonuses are granted at 4th, 7th and 10th level and a handy chart provides the conduit stats and over all - I was positively surprised. The rather complex class depiction of 13th Ag has been properly replicated here.


The defining class feature of the conduit, though, would be the conduct die: This begins at 1d6 as adventurer and increases to 1d8 at champion, 1d10 at epic tier. After a given heal-up, the conduit assigns a conduction power for which she meets the prerequisites to a side of the conduct die. When a side of the die is rolled, this means a conduct power is being rolled. The die is rolled twice The powers that were thus rolled are considered to be "charged", whereas all other sides are considered to be "drained." Repeat sides are rerolled in this process.


Whenever a magical ability targets the conduit, they can choose to use an interrupt action to roll the conduct die. If the conduct die lands on a side depicting a drained power, said power becomes charged and the triggering ability automatically misses, as the conduit absorbs it. If the die lands on a charged power, the conduit may elect to have the magical ability automatically miss all targets, but then takes damage equal to the level of the creature that created the effect - or the conduit may have the ability proceed. The conduit rolls the conduct die each round as a free action - upon landing on a charged power, they can use it; on a drained power, they can't.


The careful reader may have noted some problems with this ability: One: Monster-level as damage is negligible, considering the amount of damage that flies around a 13th Age table. More importantly, though - 13th Age, alas, does not properly codify what is a magical attack and what isn't. Granted, one can argue that the GM can easily make judgments as to this regard, but ultimately, this isn't as easy as one would think - is a gaze attack magical? A dragon's breath? Some guidelines would be nice here.


The class talents available allow for the modification of the conduct die and similarly, feats available for the class allow for more reliable playstyle for more score modifications and e.g. the charging of drained powers when rolling a charged power. Special mention deserves the Gigas Conduct talent, which increases die-size further by +1 - more variety and a larger arsenal, but also less control. Mystical Weapon allows for the potential expansion of either atk or damage, though the bonus die granted at low level may be a tad bit much.


But what conduct powers do we get? Well, a total of 16 such powers are provided and they include pretty much what you'd expect regarding single-use attacks and defensive tricks: Better initiative, melee force damage blasts, interrupt action MD-based means of making foes miss (NICE!) or healing - there are some nice options here. However, once again, the "magical effect" hydra rears its ugly head -Dissipation deals psychic damage and may also lock down "magical" abilities for the affected targets - which, as established before, are simply not defined in 13th Age. It should be noted, though, that balance-wise, this remains the only problem of the conduit powers presented herein.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and features nice full-color artworks, though personally, I dislike both the decorative diamonds and the blue/yellow-color-scheme. Still, this is a matter of taste and will not influence the final verdict. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Sasha Hall's Conduit is a surprisingly awesome take on the concept: I expected some issues for the difficult concept and 13th Age's rather intricate class design and encountered no brutal problems. More importantly than that, the conduct die is a truly unique playing experience that rendered the class an experience you can't really compare to others - and that's AWESOME. Seriously, once you've read so many classes like I have, jamais-vu-experiences become rare indeed, particularly when they actually work out as intended. The conduit, balance-wise, can be considered to range in the middle fields of 13th Age-classes - it is not weak per se, but the chaotic nature of the Conduct Die means that it plays in a unique style: Either you have excellent, variable damage...or tricks. Fans of quick-witted thinking at the table will certainly adore this class and I know the class has a place at my table. That being said, as much as I'd like to bestow my highest accolades on this class, I can't do that - the "magical" effect issue puts an undue burden on the GM and represents a significant chink in the design of the otherwise compelling class. Finally, one note for potential expansions: The conduct die SCREAMS interaction with the escalation die to me - in fact, I can see myself writing powers and talents tying them together - the result can provide both planning AND escalate the chaos factor even further - which would be win-win in my book. Why this obvious, glorious possibility wasn't yet used, I don't know, but I hope for such interaction in a future.


How to rate this, then? The conduct die is sheer brilliance and I love the unique playstyle, but with the "magical effect"-hiccup, I unfortunately cannot go higher than 4 stars for this supplement. I still wholeheartedly encourage you to check this out, though - we've got some talent here that deserves being recognized, particularly for the exceedingly low price-point.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conduits of the Age (13th Age Compatible)
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Advanced Archetypes II
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2016 03:55:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second collection of Flaming Crab Games' archetype-books clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's dive right in!


The first archetype herein would be the Blood Scoundrel Bloodrager, who begins with perhaps one of the oddest decisions regarding spellcasting - instead of the highly restrictive bloodrager spells, the archetype instead gains access to all enchantment and illusion spells from the wizard spell-list. Ouch, but let's see whether the rest justifies that. The archetype adds Bluff, Disguise, Sense Motive and Stealth to the class-skill-list. They also receive proficiency in rogue-y weaponry as well as the option to cast bloodline spells (and only those!) in light armor sans arcane failure. Instead of a normal bloodrage, these guys receive a +4 morale bonus, increasing later to +6 and +8 and the archetype receives no penalty to AC and may still use Int-, Dex- and Cha-based skills. Instead of uncanny dodge, which is moved to 4th level, where it replaces Eschew Materials,, 2nd level provides Sneak Attack, which scales up by +1d6 every 4 levels thereafter. A blood scoundrel may elect to choose a slayer talent in lieu of a bloodline feat, with 12th level providing access to advanced slayer talents. DR is replaced at 7th level by improved uncanny dodge - I assume, eating the whole of damage reduction, not just the first increment. The archetype is pretty solid and rather interesting and features quite a few interesting tweaks. Granted, I'm not a big fan of the spell-list, but the requirement of materials etc. does offset this a bit. On a nitpicky side, the archetype's 5th level is dead, with improved uncanny dodge being moved to 7th level.


Chakram Dervish fighters are locked into Quick Draw as the 1st level bonus feat and replaces bravery with a scaling dodge bonus versus ranged attacks. 3rd level replaces armor training with the ability to treat dual-wielding chakrams as light weapons and also eliminates penalties to wielding them in melee as well as eliminating the chance to damage himself. 5th level provides scaling bonuses to atk and damage as substitutions for weapon training and 7th level eliminates AoOs when throwing chakrams. 9th level provides dual throwing and 11th level allows the dervish to move up to his speed and make a full attack with chakrams at -2 to atk...which is pretty strong. At 15th level chakrams automatically return whether they hit or miss, allowing for full attacks with just one chakram in the hands. 20th level nets auto-confirms of crits and increases the crit modifier by +1 (to x3). The character also can't be disarmed.


The Dread Thane skald adds all spells with the fear-descriptor of 6th level or lower to his spell-list and gets +1/2 class level to Intimidate...which replaces bardic knowledge. Instead of song of the fallen, the archetype receives a song that causes the shaken condition. 2nd level provides +2 to damage versus shaken foes, scaling up to +4 versus frightened and +6 versus panicked foes at 8th level. 4th level fear immunity replacing uncanny dodge, which is imho a bit soon. 7th level nets a horrific visage while singing penalizing saves of nearby foes (10 ft) by -4 and eliminating fear immunity in that range. The range increases by +10 ft at 13th level and 19th level instead of versatile performance.


The Eldritch Sage magus gets only simple weapon proficiency (no armor/shield, no martial weapons), but gains spells per day at +1 level. Arcane Pool gains full level + Int-mod points and may expend them as a swift action to increase the save DC of magic items used or spells cast by +1. 10th level allows for the expenditure of 3 points for a +2 increase, while 20th level allows for the expenditure of 5 points for +3 DC. Spellcombat is modified to instead apply to casting spells and using magic items...or at least, it's supposed to, I think. The archetype fails to specify which kind of abilities they replace - while it's pretty evident for the respective levels, this still constitutes a comfort detriment. And yes, this means duel spellcasting via wands...and this is pretty much problematic on its own. Similarly, 2nd level's Dual Spellcasting, which allows for the casting of two spells at once, provided they're one level lower than the highest spell level available and needs two free hands for the trick. I get why this is here - it's there to replace spellstrike, a mighty ability...but double spells are a tricky thing that is usually a 20th-level CAPSTONE. For a reason. Worse, the lack of limitation to spells from the magus spell-list allows for a nasty two-level dip here. 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter net metamagic/item creation bonus feats. 7th level allows the magus to expend spell level arcane pool points to recall a spell activated from an item, allowing the character to recharge it. This does not work on empty items...but is still pretty powerful and necessitates that the GM takes careful heed regarding low-charge wands, staves, etc. As a capstone, the no-highest-spell-level limitation is taken off dual spellcasting and the character uses his own CL when using wands, staves and rods. Oh, and he may charge depleted items. This archetype is broken.


The Faithful Paragon warpriest must be LG and gets additional access to the paladin's spell-list - which is pretty insane, considering the exceedingly powerful paladin spells being balanced so they become relevant at 4th level, not 1st. And we all know at least a couple of very powerful such spells - when extending them to the arsenal of a full spellcaster, they turn ugly fast. The archetype also receives + Cha-mod fervor and moves sacred weapon to 4th level, treating it as class level -3. 4th level provides Cha-mod to saves instead of channel energy, while 7th level replaces sacred armor with the option to, as a swift action, gain temporary hit points equal to Cha modifier TIMES HD - but thankfully, only 1/day, +1/day at 14th level. 9th and 18th level increase fervor dice by one step each and replace the respective bonus feats. Overall, a more paladin-y warpriest whose epsllcasting remains his one issue: Plus pala-spells is a pretty big thing that eliminates this one at my table from the get-go.


The Grasslands Prowler ranger has a unique combat style based on movement (and keeping enemies close) as well as natural weaponry, replaces Endurance with Fleet and adds some druid-y-themed spells to his spell-list. He's locked into plains as terrain and gains fast stealth at 7th level, pounce at 16th. No complaints here.


The Katana Duelist does not receive any armor or shield proficiency and gains an Int-based scaling AC-bonus that also applies versus touch attacks. He's locked into katana weapon expertise and replaces mounted archery with +2 to Ref-saves. 5th level provides Parry instead of banner, which allows the character to forego attacks of his full attack, storing one attack to later, as an immediate action, use as a competing roll versus the attack. On a success, he negates the attack. While I'm not a fan of competing attacks, size-based penalties and the option to, at penalty, parry attacks on adjacent allies, make this okay. 14th level's Riposte allows for an AoO to follow up on a parried attack.


The Mad Prophet oracle gets 5 curse/madness-themed bonus spells and may, at 1st level, mark foes as doomed souls as a full-round action, penalizing the saves of the target versus the mad prophet. The action required decreases at 8th level and 16th level, while the penalty becomes more severe. This replaces the 1st level revelation. 7th level allows the mad prophet to 1/day cause a target to suffer a freak accident determined by consulting a random d% table with 14 entries. All of these are nasty and they range from mummy rot to negative levels voice loss to being subject to auto-confirmation when crited for a period of time. The effects are powerful, but based on a save and higher levels net additional uses. I quite like this one - flavorful, a bit odd...kudos!


The Myrmidon swashbuckler only receives panache when scoring a critical hit or delivers a killing blow with a performance weapon and the archetype begins play with "the benefits of the Weapon Focus feat in one performance feat of her choice" - I assume that should be performance weapon. The myrmidon substitutes Charisma for Intelligence for the purpose or prerequisites of combat feats, replacing swashbuckler's finesse thus. Instead of the derring-do deed, the archetype can spend 1 panache to add a surge-like 1d6 to a given performance combat check, with 6 providing the means to reroll and add - essentially, the surge is an exploding die. Instead of 15th level's swashbuckler's edge, the myrmidon may take 10 even when distracted or in immediate danger...which is a bit odd, considering how good specialists of this trick become. (My current game features an insane gladiator performing for the crowd in his head...) 19th level provides a means for the myrmidon to decrease the attitude of crowds towards the target of his critical hit by two steps, with DC being equal to damage taken...which means the check is impossible for x3 and x4 weapons of even a moderately competent myrmidon, nigh impossible for x2-weapons. At 4th level, the archetype may replace a combat feat with a performance feat instead. 5th level provides scaling +atk and damage bonuses as well as Improved Critical for performance weapons. As a capstone, the class auto-confirms performance weapon critical hits and increases crit modifier by +1. This one is weird - I LOVE archetypes that do interesting things with performance combat, mainly since the mechanic is underrepresented and has potential. However, it's very niche unless an archetype (like some by Everyman gaming, for example) allows for a way to treat regular combat as performance combat. The lack of such a mechanic here and the slightly wonky components mean that, alas, there is no more reason to take mid-to-higher levels in this archetype than for the base swashbuckler.


The Nightmage rogue is locked into minor magic at 2nd level and 4th level nets prepared spellcasting based on Int, with spells known like a ranger and the spell-list being all abjuration, divination, enchantment, illusion, transmutation and universal sorc/wiz-spells. This replaces all rogue talents and CL is, analogue to ranger, paladin et al., class level-3. Solid, if somewhat unremarkable take on the casting rogue.


The Quickblade fighter gets Acrobatics as a class skill and they are locked in Dodge and Mobility as bonus feats of 1st and 2nd level, meaning you'll be stuck with 2 levels of passive feats...not too exciting. 2nd level provides +5 ft. speed when not wearing medium or heavy armor or a shield heavier than a buckler, increasing the bonus by +5 ft. at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Instead of armor training, the archetype gets a scaling dodge bonus and 5th level provides 1/charge direction change (NICE!) and may continue to move after a charge, provided there is movement left. 9th level is pretty sick: Full-attack charge that can be dispersed between target of the charge and any foe threatened during the charge - an ability usually valued as significantly more powerful. 13th level allows the quickblade to expend a standard action to duplicate an extraordinary variant of haste for 1 round/level, thankfully not stacking. 17th level allows the quickblade to perform +1 standard, move or full-round action in a given round, with escalating conditions (fatigue, exhaustion, unconscious) thankfully preventing abuse by explicitly stating that curing a previous condition does not influence the following. 19th level provides a 20% miss chance when moving full speed in a round and 20th level makes haste permanent. This archetype is odd - the high-level tricks are unique and pretty well-made, if not perfect in their craftsmanship...but the low levels are passive and boring...and 9th level's ability could have really used a scaling mechanism to bring it more in line with the options - the charge/full-attack exceeds pounce in flexibility, which is pretty much one of the most powerful offenses.


The Righteous Flame Acolyte replaces lay on hands and mercies with a melee touch attack as a standard action that deals 1/2 class level times 1d6 damage, half of which is fire, half of which is "holy damage bypassing resistances and immunities", slightly deviating from the usual wording, but you get what's meant. That being said: There is no "holy" damage in PFRPG anymore...so purists may still balk at the exact wording here and long for the default. The ability can be used level + Cha-mod times per day, and, as a swift action, the paladin can expend two uses as a swift action to add this damage to the melee weapon. I assume this bonus damage does not multiply n critical hits, but I'd still appreciate the ability stating it. 5th level replaces divine bond with the option to make "iterative attacks with his weapon in addition to using his Righteous Flame Strike as an off-hand attack." Okay, got this - I assume this still requires a full-attack instead of being activated as the usual standard action of the righteous flame strike. Instead of aura of resolve, the paladin receives scaling resistance to cold (later immunity at 20th level), which extends to allies nearby. Solid, overall, if not perfect.


The Serenader bard adds half his level to Diplomacy instead of bardic knowledge and replaces inspire courage with a means to charm person while a performance lasts. At 14th level, a 3-round requiring dominate person can be performed instead of frightening tune.2nd level gets +4 to saves versus charm and compulsions instead of well-versed and 5th level allows for taking 10 on any Diplomacy checks instead of lore master. Solid one.


The Soldier of Gaia warpriest replaces the cleric's spell-list with that of the druid, remembering, thankfully to cover its bases regarding high-level items duplicating spells beyond the capabilities of the archetype. Similarly, spontaneous casting is modified to apply to summon nature's ally instead. The blessing list is restricted thematically and 7th level provides a vine-based fire-vulnerable black tentacle-variant usable 1/day, +1/day at 13th and 19th level instead of sacred armor. Awesome, intriguing little archetype.


The Spellhound inquisitor gets 1st level Spell combat instead of Domain and adds 1 magus spell as though it was a divine spell, +1 such spell at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter instead of judgments. 8th level nets improved spell combat and 16th greater spell combat, replacing judgments gained there. The capstone provides auto-success defensive casting concentration and +2 to either DC, +2 to increase spell resistance or + 2to atk. Solid blend of inquisitor and magus.


The Steel Valkyrie cleric gets full martial and armor proficiencies, diminished spellcasting, Fly as a class skill and is locked into the war domain, treating her class level as +2 for the purpose of domain spells and abilities granted by the war domain and its sub-domains, though thankfully sans early access. At 2nd level, these clerics emit Will-boosting auras with scaling bonuses (getting bonus-types right!) and at 4th level, further AC-bonuses when wearing heavy armor. 6th level qualifies her as class level -4 fighter levels for feat-prerequisite purposes. 8th level allows her to have the armor grow metallic wings from her armor, granting fly speed 40 ft for class level minutes...though the ability fails to specify maneuverability class. 14th level provides a retributive, +atk-and damage-granting aura. All in all, an archetype with cool visuals and very minor nitpicks - like it.


The Tavern Brawler begins play with either Throw Anything of Catch Off-Guard. As a full-round action, the tavern brawler can imbibe alcohol to gain access to a combat feat he doesn't possess for 1 minute. Continuous drinking extends this and daily use-feats cannot be cheesed this way. 6th level allows for the maintenance of 2 (3 feats at 10th, which also provides for more flexibility regarding activation-action, which becomes faster at 12th level) at a given time, and yes, they may act as a prerequisite for one another. 20th level allows for Con-mod such wildcard feats at a given time. This ability replaces martial flexibility...and it rather powerful. Brawler's Fury may be used with improvised weapons and, at 2nd level, he may retrieve and imbibe two potions at once. 4th level provides scaling bonuses to atk and CMD while wearing light armor or none. 5th level allows for the use of brawler unarmed damage when using improvised weapons at level-4 if the brawler's damage would exceed that usually associated with the improvised weapon. They also may perform awesome blow with improvised weapons. I like this archetype for its modification of martial flexibility and focus on improvised weapons.


The Warding Bastion cavalier replaces charging prowess with the option to make squares in reach difficult terrain for enemies and 4th level replaces expert trainer with scaling AC-bonuses. 6th level allows the warding bastion to immediate action take damage for an adjacent ally, taking half damage for the ally, with additional effects still affecting the ally. Instead of mighty charge, the cavalier increases his reach for AoOs and the number he can perform. At 12th level, he can expend challenge to grant short-term buffs and slightly longer-lasting temporary hit points to allies nearby. As a capstone, he can uses challenge-uses to extend his life, even when dead due to hit point damage. Cool! This one is inspired, interesting and concise - love it!


The War Genius investigator has 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. As a move action, they may use 1 inspiration to duplicate a witnessed combat feat for class level rounds...sans needing to make the prerequisites, which can be problematic. This replaces alchemy. He may also spend 1 inspiration as an immediate action to gain inspiration die as insight bonus to AC versus a foe whose feat he's copying via the above ability. Instead of poison lore, he treats his level as fighter level-3 for prerequisite purposes and at 4th level, he can use the feat-copying as a swift action for +1 inspiration. I love this one's concept and think its mechanics could have used further expansion - that's some cool mechanics waiting to be further expanded.


The final archetype is the Wildfire Druid, who must select the fire domain or one of its subdomains; he may spontaneously cast such spells...which means these guys can, at least fire-wise, outblast sorcerors. Not cool. (Get it? Haha...I'll punch myself later for that one...) At 2nd level, the archetype can see through fire and smoke etc. sans issues (Nice!) and 4th level decreases fire resistance of adversaries (scaling) for purpose of his spells, which capstone ignoring even immunity. While this replaces wild shape, in combination with the massive blasting capacity, this is very strong. Resist nature's lure and venom immunity are replaced by scaling fire resistance. Wild shape is decreased to level -2 and gained at 6th level, also eliminating the option to form into a water elemental. 13th level makes foes that take fire damage from his spells gain fire vulnerability for 1 round. Overall, an elemental-themed archetype that is a bit too good regarding its damage-output. If you wanted a pure dire-specialist druid...this will do the job and net buckets of damage.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are more precise than in older Flaming Crab Games-supplements - the rules-language, while still sporting some minor deviations, is more in line with the conventions. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard and has gotten rid of the annoying blank space in earlier supplements. The pdf has no artwork, but does sport bookmarks for your convenience.


Tanner Wahlin, Alex Abel and C.J. Withers' second collection of archetypes is significantly more refined than the first - the rules-language is more precise and while there are a couple of archetypes herein that are pretty much broken, there also are some in this book that truly deserve being called "nice", ones that sport cool visuals and concepts. That being said, compared to some other Flaming Crab Games-releases I recently covered, this one does sport more examples of fast and loose play with balance, where the exchanges of abilities either have been swallowed or are not equivalent - mind you, that's not a bad thing for underpowered classes like the rogue, fighter or monk, but for already strong classes like the druid et al., this is unnecessary and potentially problematic. Still, this is an improvement over the first book - I actually can see myself allowing some of the archetypes herein in my game after a bit of filing off of rough patches. So, how to rate this? Ultimately, there is a decent balance between the solid and problematic, hence I will settle on a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to in dubio pro reo.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Archetypes II
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Random Encounters Remastered: Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2016 04:16:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the glorious Random Encounters Remastered-series clocks in at a massive 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a whopping 43 pages of content - quite a bunch, so what precisely do we get?


Well, first of, the obvious: All RER-installments so far have been setting-neutral, though NOT generic - the environments covered have been evocative and interesting throughout the series. Thus, it is a natural fit to expect to see Purple Duck games' patchwork planet Porphyra with its unique environments to get its due, right?


So, since it has been A LOT of time since I covered an installment of this series, let's begin by recpaitulating how this system works, shall we? Each installment provides numerous adventure areas/terrain types - from the steppes to primeval woodlands and tainted estuaries. The areas themselves can be customized by providing unique hazards and terrain features. The system is dead simple: Choose a CR, multiply that CR with 20, add that value to your d%-roll...et voilà, there you have an encounter suitable for your designated target CR. One roll, simple math, HUGE tables. This elegant system is enhanced in its usefulness by several components: 1) Advice on how to best use random encounters, particularly useful for novice GMs, obviously. 2) The why-hasn't-this-been-in-the-GM's Guide-level of smart disposition-system.


What's that, you ask? Well, it's pretty much the base set-up for the adversaries - they can be charmed, disarmed, etc. - perhaps they just want to flee or are injured...or subject to a mayday on water. The system may not sound like much, but its inclusion in this series actually expands the variety and focus of random encounters significantly.


Where was I? Oh yeah: 3) Terrain features. If you've been following my reviews, you may have noticed that I very much look for interesting terrain in modules, encounters, etc. - why? Because it makes the fight more interesting...one could claim that it actually defines the fight as much as the combatants: Think about it, whether it's sieges, any swashbuckler-movie ever made or simply the tired old Luke-Vs.-Vader-showdown-comparison: Could you imagine that working in an even, bland room? Exactly. Hence, terrain is important - exceedingly so. There is a reason Raging Swan Press' dressing files are as beloved as they are. Well, this one here focuses more on rules-relevant terrain modifications - from fey-based hazards to quicksand, reefs and shifting dunes, there is a significant variety of evocative material in that regard, all ready to be inserted into your encounters at a simple glance - and yes, it also sports a table for random tunnel direction turns, widowmakers, mirages...you get the idea.


Beyond this general and awesome set-up, however, the respective environments and their massive tables also feature recommended dispositions and terrain features as well as building blocks you can use to further enhance the random encounter you create - and yes, if you're doing your task right, players will not notice that they're fighting a random encounter. A quick glance of the respective table-short hands will provide the discerning user of this supplement with a nice surprise: Both Purple Duck Games' rather impressive Monsters of Porphyra and the fourth Bestiary have been included in the creatures featured in these exceedingly-detailed tables, though the lack of neither of them will prove detrimental in a significant way to you when using this book: There are so many encounters herein, the tables are so big, that the entries featuring both books could be skipped, should you elect to do so.


As far as terrain-types are concerned, we have a field day: God-blasted wastelands, haunted seas, spirit-watched countries, tainted estuaries and underdeep ruins alongside primeval woodlands provide pretty much an all-killer, no filler selection of environments that imho prove just as useful beyond the confines of Porphyra as on the patchwork planet.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column full-color standard with some exceptional artworks from Monsters of Porphyra being used in this book as well. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.


David Nicholas Ross' Random Encounters Remastered-series is pretty much one of those useful to have time-savers for the GM - having these pdfs at your beck and call makes the creation of random encounters a) faster b) more rewarding and c) results in more detailed, fun random encounters. While the very notion of the random encounter has been much maligned, my experience has been that they make the game more interesting, versatile and ultimately, more organic - they help create a more concise illusion of a world that's alive. This installment sports not only concise dispositions and fun hazards, the lists themselves are also exceedingly versatile - and what more can you ask for? I encourage you to check this one out and remain with a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Random Encounters Remastered: Porphyra
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Strange Magic Unchained - Variant Multiclassing
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2016 04:13:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This little pdf does pretty much what it says on the tin - it takes the Strange Magic-classes and translates them to the variant multiclassing system used introduced in Pathfinder Unchained.


The Breakdancer gets score and rhythm at 3rd level and qualifies for a breakdancer talent at 7th level, though only one to which a 3rd level breakdancer can qualify. 11th, 15th and 19th level go a similar way, expanding the options of the score -and yes, here we also have maximum level-requirements.


The Cantor needs to select a deity at 1st level and begins play with restrictions that are appropriate, with 3rd level unlocking score and 7th providing domains, which then alternate with score progression at 7th, 11th, 15th and 19th level.


The ethermagus gets void blade at 1/2 level at 3rd level and access to the voidmeld etherheart at 7th level as well as 2 1st level manifestation. 11th level unlocks void shield, 15th level provides 2 voidmeld manifestations and 19th level makes his level count as ethermagus level for purposes of void blade. EP regenerationr ate is 1, scaling up to 2 at 11th level, 3 at 19th.


The ethermancer begins at 3rd level with 1/2 level's ethermancer and lesser blasts that can only be modified by 1 manifestation and a pool equal to 1/2 level + Cha-mod as well as 2 1st-level manifestations known. 7th and 15th level provide a multiuniversal philosophy. 19th level brings more manifestations and allows for the addition of more than 1 manifestation to a blast, though one needs to be 1st level.


The etherslinger begins with 3rd level firearm proficiency, with 7th level unlcoking ether clear and ethersmith and a limited ether pool. 11th level unlocks Amateur Gunslinger and etherbullets, 15th level an etherslinging talent and 19th level another one.


Harmonicists gets limited score at 3rd level, expanding capability at 7th level. The capacity of the score is increased at 11th level. Counterpoint is unlocked at 15th level and the 19th level further offers more intros, melodies, etc. while also unlocking front and center.


The Maestro's take begins with score at 3rd level, obviously and unlocks refrain at a 2nd level maestro's potency at 7th level. 11th level and 19th level increase score capacity and 15th level provides a single opus with prereqs for which a 7th level maestro can qualify.


The Scion of Discordia gets truenaming at 3rd level with two 1st level recitations and 7th level unlocks the discordant zone at 1/2 class level's potency. 11th level unlocks more recitations (as wella s unlocking the Codex of Artifice) and 15th level provides a talent of discordia for 7th level whose prereqs can be met by a 7th level scion. At 19th level, recitations are expanded and the Codex of Far-Flung Spheres is unlocked.


The truenamer follows the same unlocking progression regarding the codices, but at 7th level, they gain an inflection and a second inflection at 15th level.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a clear and crisp two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports great artworks re-used from Strange Magic. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Bradley Crouch's variant multiclassing for Strange Magic is an inexpensive, humble and solid little book that does exactly what it says on the tin. While it does not cover the "archetypes" that basically constitute alternate classes, it does cover the well-crafted original classes. All in all, a solid, inexpensive little pdf one can't really complain about.


My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Magic Unchained - Variant Multiclassing
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Mythic Magic: Advanced Spells III
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2016 04:09:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Mythic Magic-upgrades for the big Paizo hardcovers clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, which leaves us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, this time around, we take a look at the spells featured in one of my least favorite Paizo hardcover released so far, the Advanced Class Guide. Much like in my review for the supplement dealing with the ARG, I am not going to judge the content herein on the virtues of the source material on which it builds (or the lack of balance thereof), instead trying to judge this on the merit of its upgrade to the existing material.


All right, that out of the way, we begin, beyond the internally linked list of spells with a handy list of spells ordered by alphabetical appearance. As has become the tradition with these pdfs, the respective spells can be roughly separated into several categories. The first would be numerical escalation: Greater aggressive thundercloud, for example, increases damage output and even adds a minor, save-negated negative condition. (On a nitpicky side, the non-greater version of the spell's augment references flaming sphere instead of aggressive thundercloud - though this typo does not impede functionality.)


Other spells extend the tactical options - Communal Align Weapon, for example, adds further bonuses and ignores a scaling amount of damage reduction, but the augment (6th)-option also adds the respective special weapon ability for the respective alignment - axiomatic, unholy - you get the idea. Aura Sight's mythic version adds a skill bonus and mitigates the line of sight requirement. Bloatbomb receives a pretty high chance of killing the target and makes the corpse it leaves remain a volatile threat to any subject to its vile effects. Similarly, targets provide for an interesting means of modification: Blurred Movement, for example, can now be cast at range of touch beyond also increasing the potency of its effects.


There also are spell-upgrades herein that are closer to their real world mythology's inspirations, with climbing beanstalk being closer to Jack's story. Personally, I consider Contingent Scroll ignoring the spell-list restriction somewhat problematic, but that may ultimately just be me being overly cautious due to years of heavily UMD-ing players. On the plus-side, dimensional bounce is awesome: It lets you either choose more locations or decrease the locations available at the expense of a longer range in two steps, enhancing flexibility and granting the spell a new tactical dimension.


Flexible Fury can also potentially cause minor issues - the spell allows for the exchange of multiple rage powers, which may even act as prereqs for one another; however, at higher levels, the augment allows for the permanent exchange of rage powers, which can potentially cause issues. On the plus-side, multiple-use hex glyphs (or greater ones that can store multiple hexes) is pretty cool. Long Arm is pretty brutal - its duration can be consumed faster for increased reach, it can be applied to other characters and casting it on yourself is only a swift action - if that doesn't seem like much, start thinking what you can do with it...Bingo. Clinging damage is another theme featured in some of the spells herein. Sickening Entanglement is a bit odd, in that its poisonous, Dex-damage causing sap has no save AND does not declare its damage as a poison-effect, which is somewhat odd. The dual-maneuver using thunderstomp gets discrepancies between CMDs right, which is nice to see. I also really liked triggered suggestion's potential for AoE-effects. Similarly, senses dampening walls of blindness/deafness have intriguing effects, affecting even creatures only nearby.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, though not as almost perfect as in most Legendary Games-supplements. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard for Mythic plugins and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf provides internal linking for quick navigation as well. Artwork-wise, this book sports several rather neat pieces of gorgeous pieces of full-color artwork.


Jason Nelson has, at this point, my utmost respect for making these pdfs - I honestly can't fathom how much work it takes to convert all those spells and check them for internal consistency. This is not regular design work, this is a trooper's work and I am truly thankful for these mythic magic-books - mainly because I can't fathom a mythic campaign sans LG's material. So yes, if you're using the spells from the ACG in a mythic context, this book is basically a no-brainer must-own book. Now, while I am not a big fan of the ACG, some rare instances of spells herein feel like they are a bit too much for my game, but the vast majority of the content herein is rock solid in any mythic context. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Advanced Spells III
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Veranthea Codex
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2016 04:15:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This ginormous book clocks in at no less than 393pages, vastly overdelivering regarding the page-count promised by the KS; 1 page is front cover, 1 page KS-backer thanks, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 7 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 379 pages of raw content, so let's dive in, shall we?


Before we do: I was a backer of this kickstarter and based my review on the print-version of this book. I did not contribute anything to this book.


What is Veranthea Codex? The question's answer is surprisingly complex and will guide us through this review: For one, in-game, it is actually an exceedingly powerful (as in: world's most powerful) artifact in the hands of legendary wizard Yawvil - who can be pictured as basically an Elminster-like figure that takes care to know everything around and make sure the excrement doesn't hit the proverbial fan - unfortunately, as we dive into this book, we note that the gods, imperfect and squabbling though they may be, finally seem to have out-smarted him - the world is in a state of flux and in need of adventurers.


Speaking of gods, we begin with a brief summary of the gods of Veranthea, and for a reason - imperfect and less than omniscient, they share the squabbling and grudges of classic mythologies with their earthly brethren...though some of them make Zeus and his posse of douches look downright friendly and relatable: It should e.g. be noted that Wealbrens, the god associated with water had the oceans basically destroy everything trying to cross them for quite some time, thus explaining the divergent flavors of the respective continents spotlighted herein. I could go on to depict the whole pantheon, but will refrain from a tedious enumeration that fails to capture their essence.


Basically, the set-up is this: There is an IO-like overgod, Verahnus, who is asleep and deigns to grant spells still; there are the primal gods, the people's gods and the shadow gods...and there would be the nightmare gods, basically your source of world-ending chthonic cataclysmic evil and cthulhiana. While the themes of the gods are classic, the spins taken on them at times are brilliant, interspersed with sprinklings of full-blown satire: The "benevolent" god of trade and capitalism, for example, hides a true face marred by greed and hatred; the god of goblins, ever the trickster, has been punished and turned orange, ruining goblin capacity to hide properly in the wild and setting the species on a path at odds with nature - you read these entries and only later realize that the actions and natures of the gods present leitmotifs that shaped and formed all of Veranthea and yes, they meet in regular intervals at so-called Conexcrons, epochal deity-summits, if you will - it is these summits that ended the war of the gods, the Jabberwar...etc.


Speaking of leitmotifs, there is an interesting linguistic trick employed here: Traditional player-races are referred in Veranthea as Kind Folk (with a sense of irony, no doubt), while those belonging to the goblin, orc, etc. races are known as the Unwanted Folk, basically generating a linguistic construct of shared identity between races. This becomes pretty important in some contexts, particularly on the third continent.


But I'm getting ahead of myself. If you take a look at the sheer, colossal page-count of this book, you will no doubt realize that I can't well discuss everything contained within these pages and maintain any semblance of cohesion regarding the information value of this review, so let me instead focus on giving you the basic picture: This massive campaign world encompasses basically 3 continents, all of which sport significantly diverging flairs and playing experiences.


The first of these would be Grethadnis - this place, you can probably picture as the most conservative of the continents: Grethadnis, home of the Kind Folk, is as close to a traditional fantasy setting as you'll get, though that still means it sports unique components galore - the graveyard of the Trekth's visuals reminded me, for example of a certain, more frozen region in Dark Souls II, while dinosaur-studded jungles exist alongside a region that gave basically rise to Attack-on-Titan, the (actually functioning) PrC, which is in and of itself 5 kinds of awesome. There are soulwells, randomly appearing throughout the continent, trying to lure people to be sucked into the horrid underworld of Veranthea, the Forever Dark, where the Nightmare Gods reign. Additionally, black powder and tech is seeping its way slowly through the continent, as quite recently the first intercontinental flights have succeeded...but more on that later. Oh, and you'll notice something: This was Mike Myler's homegame world for quite a lot of years and hence, certain characters will no doubt elicit a smile from veteran players and GMs alike - there would be this one nation, for example, where Boris the Green Avenger, a powerful giant half-orc sorceror/dragon disciple/barbarian lich rules with an iron fist as a living god. Have I mentioned the CR 14 killer-bunny? And yes, there is a steampunk-element to the continent, albeit a subdued one. And yes, there is wild magic...oh boy, is there wild magic...


The second continent Urethiel is different in that it is the WuXia high-fantasy equivalent to Grethadnis' western high fantasy. Here, three immortals have guided the fates of warring clans from the throne and behind the scenes, clashing time and again - and yes, we get full stats for them as well as information on the respective clans...and the soul mælstrom that catches the ephemeral souls to bring them to their respective destination - the great beyond in Urethiel, the place where the souls go, is quite literally a place you can visit. Have I mentioned the artifact that turns you colossal and makes you capable of fighting Kaiju and the like in direct combat? It should also be noted that folk in Urethiel are sometimes born with spell-like or supernatural abilities, a resilience to hem...or even a downright immunity to magic, surprisingly resulting in an overall working equilibrium...but more on that later when I'm diving into the global rules.


The third continent is easily the most interesting in that I haven't seen one quite like it before: On Trectoyri, the monsters won. The Kind races have been all but exterminated, driven to one last free bastion, a place held only by means of brilliant strategies, powerful magic and e.g. a Nautillus-esque submarine...while on the mainland of Trectoyri, goblins and similar races rule by virtue of their massive ingenuity - from bikes to tanks and aircrafts, the industrial revolution, unfettered by paltry concerns for safety and lives, has resulted in a dystopian set-up that sports the world's largest metropolis, Goblinvania, where dangerous smog is ever present, as biker gangs roam the lands and a lone silver dragon ninja fights the creatures and artifacts allow the last bastions of the rebels to fight the Kaiju-sized battles against the warmachines of Goblinvania...but, and here things become interesting: Trectoyri is pretty much bled dry. Intercontinental flight has been mastered in the nick of time by the Unwanted Folk - the resources of the haunted, much abused continent are running low and in order to prevent collapse, the empire will need to expand...one way or another.


While it should be noted that the wild-west-meets-cthulhiana-style Forever Dark also receives an evocative, if brief chapter, it is less a focus than the three continents. It does sport an interesting psionic PrC that can generate an autonomous incorporeal duplicate I loved fluff-wise and features also some nice creatures. What I glanced over in nary a page is, just fyi, a gross oversimplification of what's going on in each continent: From a lawful good stone giant nation to cabals and gangs in Trectyori to multiple sample characters, items and vehicles, there is A LOT going on here....and I pretty much get why this book blew the targeted page-count so stylishly out of the water. Each of the continents, per se, could have made one campaign setting - basically, they each ARE a campaign setting...just one linked by coincidence on the same planet, with tenuous ties between them and a sensible story as to how that could happen in the first place.


Which brings me to the next component of my reply to what Veranthea Codex is: This is a campaign setting. But what type of campaign setting? There are, in my experience, two basic approaches to campaign settings that can work and generate a believable world: The first is the one exhibited by e.g. Kobold Press - we have a campaign setting that grows out of the small to the eventual release of the campaign setting, a world that grows from the bottom to the top. Then, there is the setting that begins by growing from the top to the bottom, filling out the details in smaller publications that follow the main book. There also is a dichotomy between focuses in scope of the narratives supported one can examine: Some campaign settings lend themselves to adventuring on the small scale, providing details like industry, produce, realities of daily life; struggles etc. - the small scope, the psychological scope where you narrate personal tragedies, fiefdom-struggles, political gambits.


Veranthea is not really intended for that approach. This setting is very much a high-light reel and more cinematic - Veranthea Codex is a campaign setting that very much is interested in the big picture - it's a setting, wherein you change the nations, turn Kaiju-sized, fight dinosaurs and stem the tide of an invasion of a nation with vastly superior technology, a setting wherein you fight alongside immortals, witness them clashing and then travel to the underworld to save a soul literally from the hell of its own doing. Veranthea captures perfectly the high-concept approach to campaign setting design and truly excels at these sweeping narratives - thanks to its size. Were this book any smaller, it would collapse under the ambition of needing to cover three vastly different continents. Thus, the book, as presented, manages to actually work in the context of high-fantasy, sweeping narratives, though the book does leave those of you yearning for the small growing into the large, fans of the more subdued fantasy, wanting - Veranthea is pretty much in your face fantasy and has very little in common with traditional, semi-realistic settings. This sets it both apart...and made me wish, frankly, I had received three books instead- one for each continent, but with more details, mainly since I prefer a lot o details...but I won't hold that against this book.


Now I mentioned that the response to what this book is would be complex. I am not done yet. Veranthea also understands itself as a kind of band-aid for several of the rules-components some GMs consider problematic, thus sporting several global rules that interact with the world in different ways to create its intended balance sweet-spot. How does that work? Well, for the most part, rather well. For the most part. To give you an example via the firearm-rules: The book introduces a recoil-mechanic, which is based on Strength-checks - one-handed firearms require a DC 16 Strength-check, two--handed ones a DC 18 Strength-check. Failing these penalizes further attacks this round by -3. The odd thing here is that the ability does not explicitly stat that it stacks with itself, which imho would have made sense. Still, it is a pretty easy mechanic, though personally, I prefer a more simulationalist approach to recoil. Nice idea: Medium and heavy armor convey fixed luck-bonuses to Touch AC versus firearms...though, again, I'd modify that to increase via e.g. armor mastery and/or magical enchantments. On the other hand, firearms, including modern ones, are even less reliable than usual, with the chances to explode increasing for early firearms (upon each misfire, broken and burst damage!) and modern firearms. While balance-wise, I get the latter, the former does seem overly punitive, considering my experiences with gunslingers at low levels - a constant drain on party-resources and painfully vulnerable. Oddly, the high crit multiplier has not been addressed and there are enchantments and feats that can somewhat mitigate some of these issues, basically introducing a feat-tax.


There is one rule, though, that I can see many a group use - a rule that actually helps balance significantly for some classes and eliminates one of the most annoying things out there. In Veranthea, the gods have realized that mortals with too many magic items = bad idea. Hence, there is an attunement value: Magic Arms and Armor, Rings, Rods and Staves, Wondrous Items, Intelligent Items and Spellbooks require an attunement period of CL x 2 days, during which the item may not be removed further than 5 feet from the character. Each character has an attunement value, based on WBL times a modifier that depends on your preferred playstyle - gritty would be x0.75, while high fantasy is x1.75. A given character cannot exceed this value of attuned magic items at a given point, which puts an end to quick magic item switching AND the Christmas Tree Syndrome. Unfortunately, it also penalizes certain classes like the fighter - it's an old truism that naked high-level characters suck, but one that holds particularly true for martials that require the items to make the math work out at higher levels. Don't get me wrong, I adore this system and will use it in my next campaign, but I will modify it to provide different attunement value modifiers for different classes to account for their needs.


The mirrored weapons some of you may know make a return. More importantly, the setting of Veranthea assumes per default that psionics exist - yes, this is Ultimate Psionics-compatible. However, psionic characters in Veranthea receive 1 power point less per level (minimum 1) and only get bonus power points equal to the number of bonus spells they have access to. Aegis have a reduced DR-progression and soul knife psychic strike bonus damage is reduced to d6. Now all of these feel odd to me, if I'm honest. You see, I've been playing with Dreamscarred Press' psionics ever since they released. They are a fixed value in my games and while some of the more recent additions imho overshot the target regarding power, overall, the system plays very solid and never eclipsed regular, vancian spellcasting, with the one potential problem being nova-capacity...though the capacity is significantly less pronounced than some posts make you believe. In my experience, people who complain loudest about it didn't understand the rules...or let their PCs rest whenever they want...but that boils down to being a sucky GM. What I'm trying to say is rather simple - I don't see the necessity here. The soul knife's blade is powerful, but so are similar godblade builds. And low DR is perhaps the most overvalued feature in PFRPG's design. Well...there is one component I generally like: When manifesting powers that have no display, the psionic character risks becoming afflicted by Psickness, basically receiving an insanity if he fails a second concentration check. It may sound harsh, but the subtle potential for psi-powers pretty much is one of the crucial strengths of psionics, so that one, I kinda understand, though it still seems harsh to me.


The wild magic rules, with 20 different effects, are pretty interesting and well-crafted, though personally, I would have loved more effects. I did mention magic in Urethiel and its interesting balancing, so what did I precisely mean? Well, 45% of the population gains spell-like abilities over the levels, depending on their character and determined by the GM, putting firm control where it belongs. 45% gain scaling Spell Resistance instead...which leaves 10%. 5% can absorb and redirect magic as an immediate action, though only spells targeting them - which probably means that AoE-spells that happen to include the character can't be absorbed...though a bit of clarification would be in order here. The final 5%...are immune to magic. As a golem. And get bonus hit points...but can't benefit from most magic items and enhancements, healing, etc. Now what this does is that it makes magic significantly less reliable - sure, you still can throw those deadly spells around, but there is a decent chance that some guys will resist or downright ignore what you throw at them to then proceed to smash you to smithereens with your own spellbook. I was pretty skeptical about this component, but it works exceedingly well in playtest and adds significant narrative potential to the fray.


There also are spellcasting traditions based on calligraphy brushes and ancestor worship that make sense. The pdf also introduces the Pilot skill and simplified vehicular combat rules, with mecha penguin-robots and dogfighters (aptly named Explodicus...) emphasizing that. The race-chapter is interesting: It fixes broken components like 1st-level Strix-flight, makes goblins less lop-sided (instead of +4 Dex, +2 Dex and Int) and generally make those work better. At the same time, the feylves (small fey-ish elves), half-doppelgangers and disgusting leugho are anything but balanced (the latter even gets crit-immunity...)- and presentation-wise, they deviate completely from the formatting established for races...which is a bit odd, since the playable mongrelmen work just fine and are well-crafted. Similarly, the rock-like Pantako are a unique and fun race I can't complain about, though I do wish we saw more about their culture, race-relations, etc. There also are variants of dragon-men (Uh, novel, didn't see those coming, hmm?), the dragonii.


Gaining a +4 bonus to one attribute, they are per definition lopsided. They also get pretty powerful additional abilities, including a Style-based racial feat-tree, which I liked in concept, if not in conjunction with the race itself. However, there is one race I was more than a bit positively surprised by: Sun Gryphons. Quadruped gryphons you can play. And yes, they are balanced, don't get 1st level flight AND sport a nice 5-level racial paragon class as well as feats for aerial maneuvers, taking a cue from Rite Publishing's excellent "In the Company of"-series. As a complaint regarding balance: 3rd level of the paragon class is pretty OP: You get both Fly AND Pounce - Pounce should be gained later (very strong) and flight is usually considered appropriate at 5th level, so yes, that one I'd modify. The pdf also sports a reprint of the Conduit-base-class first featured in Amora Game's excellent "Liber Influxus Communis." Beyond that, we receive a significant array of archetypes, but covering them all would bloat the review even further. Suffice to say, for the most part, they are intriguing and awesome, with the Attack-On-Titan-PrC I mentioned before being one of my favorites.


There is also a variant PrC for followers of dread Boris, a goblin-biker archetype...and an interesting archetype that basically is a paladin that requires gold for healing and starts off as nice...but has a built-in heel-turn...which is unique and something I haven't seen an archetype do before. And channeling capitalism's magnetic effects are hilarious. The scientific innovator, who can duplicate magic via SCIENCE!! would be another one I rather enjoyed. There is also a summoner who gets a swarm-eidolon and, obviously, there are some feats and class options contained in this chapter as well.


Okay, but even after all of this rambling, I have STILL not covered all this book is. Yeah, I know, right? The final section of this tome is devoted exclusively to characters and statblocks: Basically, you get a metric TON of statblocks for the APG-classes, the Magus and Ultimate Combat classes, spanning the CRs - while we don't get statblocks for each CR, we get a LOT of them...and the pdf does sport sample character backgrounds for the respective builds, which btw. also sometimes feature archetypes. Build-wise, they are nice and make sense - so part of the grand question's answer is that this book also can be considered to be basically a huge expansion of the NPC Codex, a treasure trove of statblocks GMs can throw at players. And yes, this does contain sample eidolons and multiple simple templates as well as sample random encounter tables.


This does still not properly answer the question, though.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are impressive for such a huge book - while there are some minor hiccups, the whole can be seen as an accomplishment of very good editing - kudos! Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, with each chapter sporting a different color-scheme. Artworks are more than numerous - there is a piece of artwork on almost each two-column spread. The artworks range from gorgeous original art to public domain stock and is for the most part in full-color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, but unfortunately the book does not sport an index, which is a bit grating when looking for a given component. The print version has, on a nitpicky side, the title etc. not in the center of the spine. I have the premium-paper-based PoD-version and the matte paper and gluing are solid, though I am not 100% sure whether the massive book will stand up to the test of time. If you're not 100% excited, I'd recommend getting the pdf first to see whether you enjoy this massive book.


Michael Allen, Luis Loza, Michael McCarthy, Brian Wiborg Mønster, Julian Neale, Colin Stricklin - these are the talented authors that contributed to Mike Myler's magnum opus and know what? I ended up liking Veranthea Codex, more so than I expected to, so, all of you: Good job!


This review was framed by the question of what this book actually is - and indeed, the focus on basically three wildly different continents as well as the NPC-Codex-like collection of statblocks makes this book extremely ambitious. I expected, quite frankly, to be disappointed by this colossal tome - a focus this diverse surely would dilute the focus of the book, right? Well, THANKFULLY, the page-count blew up. Due to the colossal size of this book, the respective components do have enough space to properly shine - barely so, if you're like me and a stickler for detail that usually grows themes and leitmotifs from the small scale to the global. Veranthea Codex manages to, surprisingly, present just enough on the respective continents to make them working settings for campaigns intrigued in the high-concept approach it takes.


If that sounds negative, rest assured that it should not be taken as such: If anything, the exceedingly high-concept locales, more often than not, could well provide enough material for 60 -90-page gazetteers each - and frankly, I'd love to see books like that. Thankfully, once again, the first expansions for Veranthea have already been released, so I'm positive we'll see more.


So is this book perfect? No, there are quite a few components I do not agree with, some instances of design-philosophy I consider less refined than others and there are components I'd love more details on (just about everything)...and I probably won't do a full-blown default setting switch based on this book alone. But Veranthea Codex is more than that: Due to the rules and ideas herein, in both crunch and evocative prose, the Veranthea Codex can be used pretty much as a perfect scavenging ground for rules, concepts and countries, society and gods - and as such, this book can be a pretty great toolbox.


The most important component of this book is one I haven't even touched upon yet: Veranthea Codex does one thing, in my opinion, the crucial thing, right: It is an honest jamais-vu experience. There is literally no setting like it. From Grethadnis' subdued un-steam-y steampunky elements and emphasis on uncommon themes (Jabberwock-war!) to Urethiel's fantastic WuXia that does not simply duplicate the tropes to the gloriously balls-to-the-wall weird Trectoyri and the unique take on the Forever Dark... Veranthea is unique. In a hobby, where we get x post-apocalyptic setting, countless fantasy worlds with diverging magic-levels, where I can count the dark fantasy/horror-settings and pseudo-vampire/Ravenloft-y settings, Veranthea is a thoroughly UNIQUE vision of the fantastic, one influenced y our current sensibilities. This is basically the current Marvel superheroes-movies' aesthetic applied to fantasy, with booms and blasts and unique, stunning locales, high-concept vehicular combat and nods to nerd culture, Veranthea Codex feels like a fresh wind, one that has left me wanting to know more about this evocative setting. When a book manages to actually provide fresh impulses to my game, when its concepts are evocative enough for me to actually scavenge the hell out of them, it does receive a heartfelt recommendation from me.


Veranthea Codex manages to provide an array of interesting options and paints, in broad strokes, a picture of a unique world as well as sporting a collection of neat statblocks. Granted, I wished each continent, each component had a book of this size, but thanks to its massive size, this book does manage to provide something unique for just about every game I can imagine.


So what exactly is Veranthea Codex? My final reply is this: Veranthea Codex is a massive, huge book that covers disparate elements and forges them into a cohesive collective; it is a thoroughly evocative, creative and refreshingly different campaign setting with a ton of high-concept crunch and even more intriguing ideas to scavenge. It is a book far removed from Tolkien-esque fantasy, a setting suffused by gamer-sensibilities and nerd-culture that plays with the tropes with one eye winking while being dead serious. Veranthea Codex, to me, is post-modern fantasy - and I love it for that and hope there will be more supplements in the future. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Veranthea Codex
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Village Backdrop: Vaagwol
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2016 04:10:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


Vaagwol is neither a black metal, nor a pagan metal band, though the name could grace such a formation. Nestled at the marshy edge of the Twyll river delta, dreary, solid walls rise amid ever present fog and a danger modifier of +20 does not bode well. Indeed, were one to visit this dreary place, with quarters separated from one another by even more walls, one can see a much larger settlement that has dwindled to become less than it once was, exhibiting a dread sense of the foreboding - dare I say, even post-apocalyptic. You see, a disease ravages this place and the nearby bog - one called "The Hunger", which, unsurprisingly, makes the sufferers crave fresh meat and finally succumb to become one of the walking dead via anew CR+1 template that, alas, is not particularly exciting. I've seen this component done better.


At the same time, though, the settlement does offer a level of internal consistency I cannot help but applaud: Beyond bandits in the marsh, forays of clay and peat cutters, armed to the teeth, are interesting and the constant siege of the living dead has resulted in a surprising knowledge of herbalism and medicine, while the lack in manpower means the city's various clockworks utilized to fill tasks that would otherwise go unfulfilled means that you can add a clockwork-y, Zobeck-like element to the village...or ignore this component for the most part, all depending on your tastes.


The presence of the Bereavement Watch under the command of Scythemaster Ecta Jenigan, the driven physician, the threat posed by nearby, bandit-riddled Feyhall -all of these conspire in accordance with the traditional plenitude of local color (nomenclature, appearance, etc.), events and whispers as well as the marketplace-sections to make the settlement, in spite of a theme that has been covered before, feel alive and concise.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.


My first impulse upon reading Greg Marks' Vaagwol was not one of excitement - you see, I've seen the topic of the zombie-besieged town and the zombie-plague one too many times and indeed, the mechanical representation of the disease is not too interesting. At the same time, however, this pdf does sport one component that is pretty hard to convey in a given review: Beyond feeling concise, the prose is simply excellent: From the titles of local offices to the descriptive writing, the sense of dread permeating this little pdf resonates quite strongly with my dark fantasy and horror-loving heart - more than I quite frankly would have anticipated. By all means, all this pdf should do is elicit a yawn from me; instead, I found myself enjoying the prose and even being somewhat sad when I was done with it - this is indeed a good read and it sports quite an array of fun options and hooks for the GM to develop. In the end, in spite of me not being too compelled by the crunchy bits herein, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this book and contemplating using this in my campaign rather sooner than later. The angle may be old, but the execution is superb - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Vaagwol
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Lost Lore: Town of Glory
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/16/2016 04:55:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This little supplement clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so what is this?


Well, know how I love kingdom-building and consider Ultimate Campaign and they expansions released by Legendary Games pretty much one of the most awesome things ever? If you've been following my reviews, then this will come as no surprise. What may come as a surprise, though, is that I think that the kingdom-building-rules don't work perfectly in the highest and lowest echelons - as recently commented on the boards, I'm waiting for a supplement to add the mythic element to kingdom building at the high end of things. Similarly, at the low end of things, their expanded scope may surpass and overshoot their target by a bit - and this is pretty much where this book comes in: Town-building instead of kingdom building, intended primarily for characters level 1 - 8.


The cleverness of this pdf is pretty much readily apparent from the get-go - the sample town would be called glory and the pdf even sports a little box that awards stewardship over the town - and it is said town that features in the illustrating examples throughout this pdf. Towns have statistics: population, Food, Goods, Trade and Defense...oh, and the presence of skilled NPCs actually influences how a town fares, with an extensive list depicting for example the option of what you can do when you have a scholar on site. Similarly, a variety of spells and their actual uses for the town are detailed - nice to see such attention to detail here as well.


The math is rather simple and so is the system: Each week that passes represents a town turn, during which each player can make one standard town action. NPCs not assigned to buildings may construct buildings. NPCs may improve skills and population may fluctuate. Similarly, NPCs can be allocated to buildings to render them active for the following week.


In order to build a building, you consult its entry - prerequisite buildings and characters need to be fulfilled to construct it and not all characters can construct it, though once it has been completed these requirements can be ignored. Build points carry over between towns and the higher the skill involved in creation, the faster the building will be completed. Building-bonuses stack unless otherwise noted.


The town standard actions are diverse and you can also trade one in for 6 town swift actions; standard actions include, but are not limited to, leading NPCs, recovering from damage, operating buildings - the like. Swift town actions cover potion brewing, gathering information and similar, quicker tasks...and yes, helpful feats are discussed as well, as are free town actions like buying/selling, spellcasting and regular interaction. NPCs are not mindless, though, so certain shortcomings may influence their build priorities. Promoting unskilled laborers to skilled specialists is also covered. There is also a town growth check - a d20 with various modifiers that take death (and lack thereof) as well as resources into account - the higher you get, the better the benefits reaped.


The pdf also sports a simple, quick system for resolving how well the town fares against attacks: Enemy XP are tallied and divided by 100, rounded down - this is the Defense DC. To defend the town, roll 1d20, add defense and bonuses for unassigned soldiers - simple, easy to grasp and still leaves space for the PCs dealing with the bosses of the enemies. (We have to take the big guy down, if his value is added, the town will NOT prevail!)


Buildings are generally categorized in basic, intermediary and advanced buildings with correspondingly higher prerequisites and benefits. There is a slightly confusing type here, which produces two "town halls"-entries, one of which (the basic building) should clearly be "town walls." Other than that, the building-array presented is surprisingly concise.


The pdf also sports 4 spells, mostly object/tool-related as well as 4 brief, solid feats, which, while not brilliant, all work.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch - apart from the one unfortunate glitch mentioned above, I noticed nothing glaring. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes without interior artwork, but needs none. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Russell Brown's town of glory is, in one word, as glorious as the title: Taking a cue from the genius downtime-system of Ultimate Campaign, this works in pretty much perfect conjunction with kingdom building at a lower level, though arguably, the system as presented here is perhaps even more streamlined. It's quick, easy to grasp and yet detailed...and it allows for what I really wanted for quite a while: Effortless low-level stewardship with a more pronounced emphasis on the human element - the importance of specialists means that the death of such characters will resonate more...oh, and yes, this works perfectly in conjunction with PFRPG's regular village statblocks, so feel free to start converting e.g. Raging Swan Press' vast catalog of excellent sample villages.


Presentation is concise and detailed and if there is one thing I regret about this pdf, then it's the size - I sincerely hope to see an expansion at some point...and since this is Frog God Games we're talking about: A low-level campaign detailing PCs acting as stewards for such a town would imho make for a pretty legendary experience - there are no modules out there with precisely such a focus apart from "PCs kill threats to town" - PCs kill threats and build town/get attached to NPCs/preferably with a good NPC-dressing generator for specialists? Never seen that done for PFRPG. I really want to play this, particularly in the grim Lost Lands! Pretty please? makes gooey eyes


This pdf surprised me with its elegance, panache and style - in spite of the somewhat unfortunate Hall/Wall-hiccup, this is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Lore: Town of Glory
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Feats of Legend: 20 Undead Feats
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/16/2016 04:54:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Feats of Legend-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This pdf begins with a handy table that sums up the feats with prereqs etc. and then dives straight into the feats, so what do they do?


-Boneyard Born: +1 DC for necromancy spells, +1 to all saves versus necromancy or death effects, can be qualified for via eldritch heritage and the undead bloodline. Odd, nonstandard formatting: A feat referred is italicized, something the pdf, confusingly continues to do.


-Dark Conduit: Adds your Con-mod to Cha-mod to determine the amount of healing you receive from any negative energy. I think this feat is a bit odd, to say the least - You don't add Cha-mod to healing. UNLESS you're talking about channel energy...but this feat extends to ALL types of negative energy, which includes spells and effects that do NOT add Cha-mod to the healing. Beyond the somewhat wonky 2-attributes-modifier to one effect (somewhat mitigated by the rarity of negative energy healed beings with both Cha and Con-score), the feat is odd and confusing, to say the least. Not gonna come near my table.


-Improved Dark Conduit: Resistance 5 vs. positive energy - quite cool, since we usually don't see the like.


-Greater Dark Conduit: Whenever you kill a creature, you gain fast healing 2 for Charisma modifier rounds. (Charisma is not properly capitalized, as an editing nitpick.) Subsequent killings reset the timer. NOt a fan, since this can be kitten-cheesed for infinite healing, when a generous daily cap, HDx2+Cha-mod, for example, would have prevented basically infinite healing.


-Deathless Determination: You gain Resist Level Drain and auto-remove them after 24 hours. The prereqs of an undead bloodline and Diehard justifies the power of this feat. (And yes, again, you can qualify for this via Eldritch Heritage.)


-False Unlife: +10 to Disguise to seem undead, but you detect as evil undead of your HD when seen via detect evil. Interesting!


-Grave-Touched: +4 to Fort-saves vs. poisons. Can be taken via aforementioned Eldritch Heritage/undead bloodline-combo.


-Improved Grave-Touched: +4 to Fort-saves versus diseases, save versus poisons increases to +6. Can be taken via aforementioned Eldritch Heritage/undead bloodline-combo...which is odd, since the alternate prereqs imply that just having Edlritch Bloodline and an undead bloodline allows for the bypassing of the previous, non-improved iteration of the feat. Here, the special-line actually detracts from the functionality of the feat, since simply basing it on the initial feat would have done the job sans ambiguity.


-Greater Grave-Touched: Save-bonus versus diseases changes to +6, you gain immunity to undead-spread diseases like mummy rot as well as immunity to poisons. Again, this ´can be taken via aforementioned Eldritch Heritage/undead bloodline-combo...which is odd, since the alternate prereqs imply that just having Edlritch Bloodline and an undead bloodline allows for the bypassing of the previous, non-greater iteration of the feat.


-Scholar of Undeath: +5 to all lore-checks to identify undead and their abilities. You also increase the DC of your channel energy, command or Turn Undead by +2...which is pretty brutal, considering how channel already is powerful and has a scaling DC. Still, worthwhile and nice.


-Improved Scholar of Undeath: The base-feat's bonus increases to +10 and the DC-increase to +3.


-Greater Scholar of Undeath: +2 to all saves versus Ex and SU abilities of undead and the DC-increase for channel et al. becomes +4. The whole feat-chain is interesting in concept, though I do consider the DC-increases rather massive. Personally, I consider the bonus extending beyond +2 to be too min-maxy - personally, I will add an Int-prereq to emphasize the scholar-angle the feats imply. (And, via MAD, decrease excess Channel-DC-stacking...)


-Hardened Flesh: Your AC is treated as +2 for the purpose of confirming critical hits and you gain DR 1/-.


-Improved Hardened Flesh: AC-bonus is treated as +4 instead for the critical hit confirmation. DR increases to DR 3/- - like these two feats!


-Necrotic Poisoner: Contact and injury poisons you manufacture can affect undead. NICE!


-Reckless Revenant: You are immune to fear effects...which would be a bit much for one feat...but the prerequisite requires you having risen from the dead...which is rather cool. Sold -even more so, since it takes breath of life into account.


-Redeemed: Gain healing by positive energy, but also be damaged by negative energy as though you were alive. Can't be combined with Dark Conduit. Nice one.


-Scent of the Grave: Favored enemy (undead) characters gain scent to detect undead.


-Tongues of the Dead: Gain Necril as a language as well as +2 to Bluff, Intimidate, Diplomacy and Sense Motive when dealing with intelligent undead. Situational and okay, but not too exciting.


-Touch of the Undead: This feat: "Allows undead you command or control to deliver touch spells for you." That's the whole crunch text of the feat. All right, I'll play: HOW? At what range? Do you have to transfer the touch held to the undead? As what action? Is there a maximum range? Can unintelligent undead hold charges? This feat is well-intentioned and flavorful, but horribly fails at its given task.


-Undead Avoidance: Gain +2 dodge bonus to AC versus undead. Losing Dex-bonus to AC deprives you of the benefits. Okay, I guess.


-Universal Recipient: Okay, we end on a nice one: Reduced DC for attaching necrografts and reduced Con damage for necrografting surgery.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are per se solid, though people that are picky about the fonts used should know that the "o"s are slightly larger than other letters. There are a couple of faulty italicizations here as well. Layout is GORGEOUS - the pdf adheres to a two-column full-color standard with skulls on the borders and a greenish tint - this is a nice-looking pdf. The pdf sports a nice full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Neal Litherland, Simon Muñoz and Brian Berg have crafted a book that sports some high-concept, intriguing feats - and indeed, there are some feats herein that are rather neat. You can justifiably call any content herein overpowered and it should make sense in most games, even the dark/low-fantasy-focused games. At the same time, there are a few pieces herein that don't work as intended, which detracts from, unfortunately, some of the most interesting feats herein. In the end, this is a solid book with some rough edges and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Legend: 20 Undead Feats
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Lost Lore: Horses of the Wild
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2016 07:14:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Lost Lore-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content!


Okay, so I wanted to start this review with a Richard III-quote...but alas, the pdf already did that. What does it sport? Well, for one, it sports basic light horse stats...and 5 variants of light horses, specifically bred for different tasks and with mechanically-relevant repercussions. The heavy horse receives a similar treatment, mind you - and a horse can make all the difference: A steed of proper pedigree can help you dealing with nobility and certain breeds can make the difference between life and death, with excellent swimming capabilities, for example. The problem here is that these bonuses are pretty excessive...a bit too much, for my liking: E.g. +5 to Diplomacy when interacting with nobility is pretty hefty. (Though it should be noted that there are quite a bunch of horses herein that do not suffer from such an issue...)


5 sensible new animal handling tricks, including the much demanded Stealth-trick can be found in this book and we also get an array of feats: No more mounted archery penalties, intimidating from horse-back, better trampling, a mounted variant of spring attack and a high-level option to perform two-handed spirited charges are provided - the latter is pretty much insane: Not only can you dual-lance (ridiculous though that may sound), you add the damage together for purposes of DR-bypassing etc. Urgh. Not gonna get anywhere near my table.


Where things get more interesting would be with two other feats for your mount: Sufficiently smart awakened mounts may learn to cast a limited array of spells from the master's list of spells, but only targeting itself. On a nitpicky side - that should be SPs...or the feats would need information on which key attribute governs the spells, that of the rider or that of the mount.


Now even more interesting, and possibly the most interesting component here: There is an option to take equestrian animal companions with specific bloodlines. To receive such a mount, the rider must give up a feat slot to gain a horse-bond - but the mount thus receives a bloodline, complete with associated class skills, bonus feats, bloodline arcane and bloodline powers that are governed by your level. Equidae Sortarius, for example can hide their auras and are great mounts for more subtle characters. Primal Beasts can grow as a capstone and are true powerhouses, while thunderhorses can unleash electrical bolts and blasts - come sing it with me: "Riders of the Storm..." >>....<<...Sorry for that.


We also get a sample bloodlined horse and 3 types of magical barding: One associated with light (including 1/day daylight) as well as animated octopus hide that can Snatch Arrows and pass the missiles to the rider. Finally, there is the obligatory pegasus wing-item. Solid, if a bit unremarkable. The pdf lists the types of standard barding's stats for your convenience.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, i noticed no issues there. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' 2-column full-color standard for the series. The pdf sports nice b/w-artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a slight comfort detriment at this brief length.


Rob Manning's little pdf proved to be more interesting than I thought it would be - while the bonuses some horse types grant you seem a bit excessive to me and while not all feats are as precise as I'd like them to be, the idea of feats for awakened horses is great...and magical bloodlines for horses? Now that is an awesome concept I'd love to see expanded in the future. Particularly if the latter interests, you, then this will be worth its low asking price. That being said, with its rough edges, I unfortunately can't go higher than 4 stars, though I do recommend you checking it out if the subject matter and ideas interest you.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Lore: Horses of the Wild
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Lost Lore: The Portalist
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2016 07:13:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This supplement of Frog God Games' Lost Lore-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!


What is the portalist? The simple reply would be that it is a new base-class that gets d10, full BAB-progression, 4+Int mod skills per level, good Ref-saves, proficiency with simple and light as well as single-handed martial weapons and light armor, but not shields. Portalists receive +1 to initiative at 1st level, increasing this bonus by +1 at 7th level and ever 4 levels thereafter, but their signature trick, obvious, is the eponymous ability to create portals.


A portalist may create one such portal +Int-mod per day at 1st level, +1 every level until 5th, where the progression slows down to +1 every odd level thereafter for a maximum of 12 portals per day at 19th level. In order to create a portal, a portalist has to expend a swift action and designate a start and an exit point, with the start point being either his square or one adjacent to him and the exit square not being more than 25 ft + 5 ft/2 levels away. Portalists need to have line of sight to the exit square and the exit square must not be occupied - if it is, the attempt is expended and fails, though the ability does work against tiny and smaller creatures. Portals collapse immediately upon passing through or at the end of the portalist's turn and may only be used by the portalist that created them. Portals are loud and easy to detect, so no silent infiltration...which is a pity, concept-wise. This, alas, does leave me with some questions: Can you look through a portal to get line of sight? Can you cast through a portal when you have an action readied? Is a portal a Conjuration [teleportation]-effect? It should be. If so, at what CL? This becomes relevant for means of teleportation-suppression. Do you need a free hand to make a portal? The proficiencies suggest so, But I'm not sure.


Starting at 2nd level, the portalist learns a portalist trick - basically, the talents of the class utilized to manipulate the portals and, unfortunately, here, the wording falls a bit apart: Take Ally Portal. It's simple in concept: Take an ally with you through the portal. "A portalist may pull a single willing adjacent ally of the same size or smaller through his portal so the two of them travel together. The Portalist and his ally must exit the portal in separate but adjacent squares. Using an ally portal only expends a single portal." Simple, right? Nope. Does the ally have to expend the movement? If not, why not? Does the ally have to ready the move through the portal? No idea. At 2 uses of another ability, a portalist may, as a full-round action, create a portal, move through it, attack, and return to his origin and similar combinations with charge attacks and the like are possible. Another issue that came almost immediately up would pertain the portal combinations: Can multiple such special portal tricks be applied to the same portal? Could you e.g. combine aforementioned two tricks?


On the other side of things, making portals elemental blasts upon opening and immediate action evasion or ignoring the line of sight requirement for the exit portal are interesting options - as is e.g. a spider climb-style perching on ceilings and the like. The other abilities of the class, unfortunately, also sport some minor inconsistencies - when e.g. an ability talks about "rough" terrain and obviously means "difficult terrain." Combining attacks and portals receives circumstance bonuses at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter and 10th level provides basically the advanced portal tricks, so-called arch portals - and here we have per se interesting mechanics: Like accelerating in the initiative order past an opponent adjacent to which the portalist came out or contingency portals. The capstone of the class allows for one portal per foe in range of his ability and basically whirlwind attack at range 1/day.


The pdf provides 10 new feats that cover extra portals and similar basics, but also feature e.g. the option to combine readied actions with portals, +1 portal per successful crit after exiting a portal (kitten-proof due to 1:1 expenditure/reward-ratio) or an option to eliminate the place-swapping trick of transposition portal's AoO. There are also some rather weak filler feats here, though: +2 dodge bonus after porting (+4 at 10+ ranks in Acrobatics)? Yeah, right, let me waste a feat on that one...


The pdf also sports new favored class options for the core-races and a new skill use for Acrobatics: Porting onto big monsters - and this section, with plenty of skill modifiers, may be worth the pdf's low asking price alone for you. The pdf also sports a new weapon special quality, portallic - this is basically a duplication of flaming, frost...etc. - with one caveat: Each may only be used once per day and only after passing a portal. The Rod of the Portalist allows for 1/day use of any portalist trick, whether the wielder knows it or not.


The pdf closes with no less than 4 pretty inspired fluff-only sample portalist-organizations on a evocative high note.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with parchment-style background in full-color featuring solid b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Michael Kortes' portalist is a pretty awesome class in concept; thinking with portals and the ramifications for their use make for utterly unique tactical options and generally, the crunch manages to juggle even complex concepts rather well. Rather well, but certainly not perfectly - from minor violations of rules-language to some required information missing regarding the functionality of portals, this pdf, alas, is an exercise of "almost" getting it right. Basically, the class is functional, but requires some minor DM-judgments to properly work. That's not the issue - as provided, it is certainly not bad. However, the class, to me, feels pretty much like it does its best to miss its own target demographic.


So, you're the cool portalist guy, pretty MAD (Str, Con, Int or Dex, Con, Int), but you have the portals...and can use them, at 19th level 12+Int-mod times per day. At first level, 1 +Int-mod times. Yay? The problem is that almost all class features here are predicated on using a resource that is not only severely limited, it is painfully limited. My playtest confirmed this, alas. Once you take the crit refuel-feat and combine it with crit-fishing, you can maintain (provided you're lucky) a certain array of portals, but you'll still liable to run out of juice very fast - faster than comparable core classes. And once you run out of fuel, you're basically a fighter without bonus feats or proper proficiencies. Yay?


Basically, the class imho needs to do one of two things: 1) Nerf portal options and provide more portals per day to make the full BAB-chassis work. Or 2), make the class 3/4 BAB and provide significantly more portals per day. As written, the class plays great for short bursts and then becomes pretty much useless - and this criticism by the guy who is a huge fan of resource-management/attrition in my games and designs...so yes, I like that design-type, but it must remain feasible. Ultimately, the portalist has all the makings of an awesome class, but stumbles pretty hard and ends up being a good scavenging ground/base from which you can work, but needs more power to make its unique concepts work consistently. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Lore: The Portalist
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Village Backdrop: Ossoko Draconsha
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2016 07:01:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


Ossoko Draconsha, literally "Dragon's Defeat" in the tongue of lizardfolk, may well be the conceptually most unique settlement in the whole series of village backdrops - if the name and dominant lizardfolk population you can glean from the settlement statblock are not clear enough: This is a lizardfolk village, but one unlike those you'd know from various modules: Ossoko Draconsha's existence is ultimately thanks to the noble sacrifice of one woman, the paladin Kellesta, who united the lizardfolk to overthrow a particularly nasty black dragon. Mortally wounded, she fell in the battle, but the slain dragon's skull remained as the creature's body dissolved in acid.
Sensing the work of powerful spirits at work, the lizardfolk took it upon themselves to consecrate the place and declare it neutral territory, soon figuring out that the sanctified skull can be used to conjure forth Kellesta's spirit in times of need, turning the acidic pool temporarily into a clear water of healing properties. Sporting thus an amount of non-lizardfolk settler, the place has prospered, though the uncommon demographics of the village necessarily put a refreshingly unique spin on the local color provided - from industry to rumors and nomenclature, the novel suffuses this book.


Beyond the obligatory whispers and rumors as well as the potentially adventure-inciting events, Ossoko Draconsha also sports no less than 3 fully detailed statblocks - a CR 6 lizardfolk barbarian, a CR 4 halfling rogue and a CR 6 elven conjuror. I applaud the number of these sample NPCs, though I frankly wished the builds themselves were slightly more complex. As a bonus, though, the paladin's spirit, codified as a sacred coterie loci spirit (yes, that mean Occult Adventures-support, though you do not need the book!) does offset this otherwise extremely nitpicky complaint.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.


John Bennett is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated freelancers currently out there: There are not that many authors out there that have his talent for weaving atmospheric, compelling yarns that sport their hooks on their own, that manage to make a place or module run by mere virtue of PC-insertion. Ossoko Draconsha may have an odd name, but it is all awesome and, from the get-go, does feature truly intriguing and captivating adventuring options; due to its unique nature and location, it makes for a great haven or neutral ground in extended swamp-sojourns and e.g. would allow for PCs to easily learn more about the background of a given locale sans risking their immediate lives - this one begs to be asked in conjunction with unique offerings like TPK Games "The Fen of the Five-Fold Maw" and similar modules, while the loci makes for a feasible reason to make this the end-point of a quest with a plethora of potential complications.


This village is unique, cool and exceedingly well-written while also sporting cool visuals - and what more can you ask of such a book? My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Ossoko Draconsha
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